ST. PAUL – The 2023 session concluded Monday and Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said it will be most remembered for Democrats increasing state spending by more than 40 percent and increasing taxes by record amounts despite a historic state surplus.
McDonald said the Democrats' new two-year state budget will increase spending from $52 billion to $72 billion and raise taxes by almost $10 billion. This includes hiking the state’s gas tax by 3.5 cents per gallon and tying it to inflation, increasing license tab fees, adding a 50-cent delivery tax, applying a new payroll tax that will hit employers and employees alike, and more.
“This session was all about the good, the bad and the ugly,” McDonald said. “The ‘good’ is House Republicans fought tooth and nail to get additional funding for our hemorrhaging nursing homes and were successful. We also enacted an overwhelmingly bipartisan package to support our veterans.
“The ‘bad’ includes Democrats raising state spending by 43 percent, while also passing the largest tax increase in the history of our state – at nearly $10 billion – despite a surplus of around $19 billion.
“The ‘ugly’ was found in a number of extreme, partisan laws such as one legalizing abortions at any time throughout a pregnancy and without any guardrails, putting our state's abortion laws on par with the most radical in the world.”
Meanwhile, McDonald said Democrats failed to provide a full elimination of the state’s Social Security tax despite nearly universal support for that move. And, after Gov. Tim Walz began the session by supporting $2,000 surplus rebates for joint filers, McDonald said Democrats ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple.
In addition to changes on abortion, McDonald indicated Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. He said this includes establishing a state-funded speech registry that could undermine First Amendment rights, declaring Minnesota a sanctuary state for transgender healthcare – for children – and adopting gun-control laws McDonald indicated will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals. In addition, McDonald said a Democrat provision will end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dealing a major blow to local charitable organizations.
“I work to be genial and do my best to work across the aisle with my Democrat colleagues to see where they’re coming from and to find common ground to help the people of Minnesota,” McDonald said. “That said, the divisive, partisan agenda they pushed this session really is beyond what even my Democrat friends say they want, making agreements incredibly challenging to reach this session. So much of what we saw the last five months appears to be driven by activists who are pushing a far-left agenda on all of Minnesota.”
McDonald said he is pleased that, at the end of the session, Republicans and Democrats scored a big win for nursing homes by successfully negotiating $300 million more than Democrats had proposed providing them. McDonald said this added funding will help that industry at a time nursing homes have been forced to close and families have been left scrambling to find care for their loved ones.
"Isn't that what Minnesotans, want," McDonald said, "for Republicans and Democrats to work together and do what's right for our state?"